The Dealer Playbook
The Dealer Playbook

Episode · 3 months ago

Chris Martinez: Scale To 1,000 Car Sales

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Is selling 1,000 cars per month even possible? Yes... yes, it is.

Chris Martinez is the Executive Director of Sales and Marketing at Jackie Cooper Imports of Tulsa and automotive best-selling author. 

His vast experience in growing profitability for dealerships is second to none, and that's apparent as he shares how he helped a single point Toyota store increase their sales to 1,000 cars per month and $400 million in revenue.

Listen carefully as Chris explains the key points of his process that you can apply to your automotive dealership starting today. 

Noteworthy topics from this episode:

1:52 - How does a dealership go from selling 100 cars to 1000 cars a month?

5:56 - How did growth look like for you?

9:40 - What kind of a process do you have around outsourcing tasks or work that doesn’t have to be done in-house?

13:40 - What is the biggest shift that needs to happen to “unclog the drain”?

18:22 - Shifting your mindset.

21:53 - What do you see the next 3-5-10 years going to look like in the auto industry? 

Enjoying the show? Leave a rating and review on your favorite podcast app!

Connect with Chris Martinez:

Website: http://chrisjosephmartinez.com 

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/chrisjmartinezatx 

Connect with Michael Cirillo:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelcirillo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michaelcirillo 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelcirillo 

Website: https://www.thedealerplaybook.com 

...the car business is rapidly changingand modern car dealers are meeting the demand. I'm Michael Cirillo andtogether we're going to explore what it takes to create a thriving dealershipand life in the retail automotive industry join me each week forinspiring conversations with subject matter experts that are designed tohelp you grow. This is the dealer playbook. Mhm My guest today is Chris Martinez. He'sthe executive director of sales and marketing at Jackie Cooper, imports ofTulsa, which includes Mercedes, Benz, infinity Porsche and Nissan. He is anautomotive bestselling author and has assisted with the openings of fivedealerships across the US And helped turn a failing single point store intoone of the top 10 dealerships in the nation, Moving them from 150 cars amonth to over 1000 cars a month. Did you hear that Charles Mound? Toyota isa single point car dealership, selling 11,000 vehicles annually And generatesover 400 million in revenue. You know, we've got to dig into that and learnabout the processes and mindset and implementation and execution of ChrisMartinez. Alright man, I'm, I'm looking forward to this specifically, I have toget this out of the way, right out of the gates. What in the world does onedo to take a group or take a dealership a single point from 150 cars a month toover 1000 cars? Like what does that even look like? Break this down for me?This is because I'm already doing the math in my brain, I'm opening mycalculator and I'm going wait 1000. Holy crap, you're selling a butt loadof vehicles. I imagine that probably...

...wasn't an overnight transition. So canyou bring me into what that process actually looked like? Well, it's uh, it starts off relativelysimple, right? It's the blocking and tackling. It's the basics, right? Soyou, basically, when we work, walk into that store, you know, we assess thesituation, you know, where was the traffic coming in? Whether people looklike, do we need more people? Where is the where are they spending the money?Were they not spending the money? Um, And once we identified a lot of thosethings, it was pretty easy to just start building that foundation. Youknow, he started looking at the people, the process that they have. And thenhow much traffic are they actually bring in? And then, you know, what'syour market? What's your bio, how many units in operation do you have? Andwhat are you leaving on the table? Right. So once we identified all thosethings, we kind of just put the plan together and, you know, We startedhitting like the first month we went to like to 20, the second month we werelike at 3:30 AM. And then we just kept growing from there within the firstyear We ended up doing 660 cars, but then you know just like anything as itscales really fast, things start kind of breaking and you start thinkingabout what's going on here, where we just sit here and you've got to startputting in some foundation, other foundational things to help sustain themodel. Um So you know what's cool about living in that environment, you've gotyou have an opportunity to see what it looks like at every level, right? Soonce you get to 600 there's certain things you have to make sure you put inplace so that they can make it to 7 to...

...8 and you can keep going up right andknowing, you know, you know once the once the thing starts moving prettyquick it's really easy to just pick up speed, right? And it's it's a matter ofhow strategic can you be in your marketing where you can put the dollarsto make, just continue to keep throwing more to that that fire right? To keepit burning burning hotter. So it's uh there's a lot of fun man we had I thinkonce we finally broke 1000 it was inside four years. I mean because youknow you get to 806 108 100 900, you know it's constantly trying to improveyour speed right, right that turn and then you're doing it on 10 acres lampwhere most stores it's a lot more more footprint, right? Our footprint wasreally small. Um To break that next barrier, you have to go find more landto house more inventory. Um It was just a constant like growth mode. Where arewe going to grow? Where is the next step every month? It's alwaysidentifying where deficiencies and then where can we shore up thesedeficiencies so that we don't make the same mistakes next month. So Ipracticed that today. Yeah. When we got here this this group was Doing like 370400 cars a month. Um now our best month was 6 90. We haven't broke 700 yet.We're still working on it. But you know, we've had a lot of challenges,inventory and right but we're still maintaining that level. So it's beenpretty good well and to do to do those kinds of numbers at a time when there'sinventory like you know, there's there's not an excuse in the book thatthat also your group is not dealing with right? Same as everything else.But I think it is interesting your growth mindset and I like the way youkind of position that you talked about...

...growing your footprint and getting moreland and things of that nature. Um, can you give us a sense of, because I canonly imagine there needs to be growth in personnel,like the actual human resource footprint probably has to grow in orderto support that. And the reason I'm asking you about this and maybe, Iguess more specifically what kind of numbers in inhuman really like how manypeople do you actually need to pull off 1000 units a month because I thinkthere's rural dealers out there listening and seeing this notunderstand or I should say not understanding that. That's not theright word, but perhaps not anticipating how many people theyactually need to support an enterprise of that size. What's with all things,you know, your business office, you want to make sure that you've gotenough people in there to begin with. But for the most part as it scales,you'll be able to see you better, see how your people are responding andknowing when to actually put that extra personnel in the beauty about theoffice. I mean they can really, I mean we've got one office for fourfranchises and I mean it's an economies of scale, right when you're gettinginto a volume store because you know, you're not adding more and more storesto having more and more personnel, you're just scaling yourself your yourone single point. Um that economies of scale place in really, really bigbecause now you don't have that or people they're the places you will havethat will be your as you grow your U. I. O. Because the more cars you sell, themore units in operation you put so that the service well you're going to haveto increase your tax. You're going to have to grow that because a lot ofpeople are so interested in trying to...

...go out and hire new text when they putin a foundation for your your staff in the back, you can grow your own text.Um and then you've got you know, service advisors you can hire and thenyou have your sales people you have to hire. Uh but there's a lot of somestrategic things that we do to help mitigate the need to have so manysalespeople, right? Because ideally what you want to have is some certainprocesses in place that kind of help amplify your current sales salespeople.Uh that's where software comes into play. And um and even outsource speciesthat come into play, the help, you know, uh amplify your current sales efforts. Okay, let's bring me into this becauseI know a lot of there's a lot of challenges out there, as far asoutsourcing particular work. And I think this is this is very interesting,right? Because any book you read about scaling an enterprise or any subjectmatter expert, you know, you're now adding your voice to this, this groupof people who have pulled this off. Talk about the importance ofoutsourcing particular tasks that may notnecessarily have to happen or be controlled in house. And so you'resaying an outsource BBC, I know a lot of people that have tried thisobviously you do as well, where they they think this is a good idea, um butthen there's not perhaps the mechanisms that need to be in place in order tohave accountability or or things of that nature and then they just go, ohwell all vendors are the same, all vendors are just here to grab my moneyall that. So what what do you do, what kind of a process do you have aroundoutsourcing um tasks or work that is not necessarily essential to handle inthe house? So for example we have a so...

...um we have a company that we use thathelps us amplify automation for our sales people and following right umThey actually help us out with have a built in automated follow up systemwhere does email um some voice mail, marketing, sms marketing and it's allturnkey and it helps amplify our current follow up process for the salespeople that although we know that we hold them accountable, we tell them tomake their phone calls a lot of the times you'll find that, you know,you'll have sales people that will complete tasks that didn't reallycomplete on there's ways to make it look like you've done the work, but youdon't really do it. And so in knowing that I just know that I need to havesome some ways to help minimize their inefficiencies. And so we have thesetools that we used to do that. In addition to that, I also haveoutsourced BDC and the BBC actually comes into play. Um yeah, you know whenyou're working in volume stores, if you don't have the, all the stuff you'dlike to have, you know when we have sales managers and there's some salesmanagers, you know, everyone has to take a day off. So um you know, a day,like today you've got some people off, you have one manager at one storerunning the store, another manager might come in later on the afternoon.Well at some point there should have been some type of management follow upon all the opportunities that came into the day before, stuff like that. Wellin knowing that you're going to have some inefficiencies there because youcan't overstep stores because some stores, you know, you want to keep yourconstant line. Um But more importantly, you wanna make sure that you're beingproductive, we use some outsource pvcs that will do the next day follow up.And what I like about that next day...

...follow up is they call those customersfor up to six times until they actually answer the call where a manager mightmake the call the next day. But then he doesn't call that customer ever again.You might call him the one time and never call them again, you know,because now we're looking at the next day and he's looking at the previousday stuff so he might just call that one customer one time. So we make surethat those customers, no matter at what point when they came in, someone'sfollowing up with them either if it was an internet customer phone customerwalking in referral, anybody that it's our crm, we have a non source BDCthat's gonna make that follow up call. That's amazing. Um Let's talk a littlebit about the the process I can only imagineearlier. Um something that you said that stood out to me as you said whenwhen we come into a store, when we move into a store to me, I'm thinking, okay,so you've got a process dialed in now by which when you move into a newlocation, maybe it's an underperforming organization or something. I can onlyimagine with all my love DPB gang, we know generally speaking this isn'tunder, there are very highly underperforming stores. So when youmove into an organization, maybe it's not the entire store, maybe it's aspecific department. Yeah. What would you say is the biggest shift that needsto happen to basically unclog the drain, so to speak. Yeah, well it's ideallyit's a mindset, right? Because You know, I've worked at Carmax for many yearsand I had an opportunity, to when I started there, they had 30 locationsAnd when I left there they had over a 100 and I had an opportunity to go andhelp open up quite a few of their...

...stores. I was able to go and see whatthat looks like when they went into a new market. Um and we talked a lot ofunderperforming stores, five year manager things that, um, you run intohas you as the story gets older and, and one of the things that, you know,when you go into an underperforming store in my mind, it's usually prettyeasy because these people are just so set in their ways that they just, theyjust forgot a lot of things that they were supposed to be doing or they justdidn't know what they didn't know. You know, they just, no one's really tighton a lot of times these managers in the industry or just the best salespersonand they got promoted and then the owners just never taught them how toactually do their job properly. They just knew, hey, sell cars. Um, theydidn't know what, you know how to drive traffic kind of maintain and how tolook for areas of opportunity, uh, different pockets to drive more morebusiness, how to help your sales people uh have a good process where you canactually help them some more cars. A lot of times, sales managers are areholding up their their abilities back because they're not giving them all thetools. I think a lot of times sales managers are just in the they're justlooking at these sales people like you're weak, you're not they're notreally doing whatever they can to really help these sales people besuccessful. Yeah, I think that's really interesting. I was just visiting uhsome clients in Ontario Canada. And one of the things that I thought wasinteresting is that they were, I've kind of caught them in this transitionwhere they didn't have a process,...

They've installed a process and theywere very open, as you say about uh the mindset, like they were very closed inthe meeting. All this is uncomfortable. It's awkward. Um What are the customers?How are they going to respond? I'm not bought into this. And then seeing theflip, like I'm right on the fresh side of the flip where they're going wait.And this was specific in f. And I. Um where they're going, you know, we weredoing an average of 606 50 per copy. Now, we're well over 20 200. Andthey're seeing this immediate shift, but it's not just about the money.They're also noticing a shift in how much happier the customers actually arehaving exactly what they need for this thing that they have just invested thisdepreciating asset that they've just invested a crap ton of money in. And soyou're right. Like. But what I thought was so impressive was how they embraced um The mindset of, you know what, Thisis gonna be uncomfortable, like it's like trying on a new pair of jeans, youknow, they're never comfortable at first, right? Um, and so I love thatyou say that about, about just kind of implementing this, but with the rightmindset and it really is tremendous, you know? Um It makes me laugh too,because I've got a small little Facebook group were, you know, 170strong, the DPB pro community, right? And, and that's where we're trying toshift mindset. This isn't your typical car guy group where we just talk aboutum, what's the pay and comp model and no, like I want people sharing whatthey're grateful for and why and what goal they want to achieve by friday,you know, like that's sort of a thing and we did have an individual at onepoint that was like, this is such foolishness like this stuff, this is solame, this isn't gonna do anything and it just goes to show this this broadspread negative mindset...

...and and what you're talking aboutreally draws to attention. The fact that mindset shifts actually meanssomething. They are not just fluff, they are not clouds, they are shiftingyour mindset and wrapping your head around it and doing whatever it takesis what differentiates A Chris Martinez helping an organization go to 400million in revenue and somebody who's stuck with every excuse in the booksaying well, but you know what, it would be easier if I was a ford store.It be easier if I was selling super looks because I'd only have to selllike three year month and then whatever, you know, it's like all mindset, right?I love that man, it's crazy because you know there's a lot of dealers that theyget romantic about the way they used to do things and they're just not open toeither change or they just don't see the possibilities, you know? And I goin and I usually just, you know, I write on even to this day though, it'skind of funny, right? There's still certain individuals that we'll stilllook at you like, yeah, you're not really doing anything special, you know,because their mindset still stuck in there always. You know, even thoughyou'll show them, look, we've done this, we've done this. It's not the firsttime, you know, I had a guy challenged me when I first got here and he goes,what's making, what's making you so special? How are you going to do whateveryone we've been doing this forever. I've been here 20 years. What's itgonna change? What are you going to actually do? Well, I'm gonna tell youone wherever I go, I'm not going to fail. Um, when I was at Carmax, we'vesold 700 use cards. When I was at Universal Toyota sold 660 months cars amonth. When I went into the Charles Manson Toyota sold for 1000 cars amonth and here there's no reason why...

...we're not going to break 700 cards comeup. I mean it's just, it's just what we're gonna do and, And fast forward.We didn't quite hit the 700 yet, but we're the 690 was so far a record. Um,we're gonna, it's just gonna happen. I love that. And, and this is the secondtime you've referenced that and said the key word yet, right yet. We haven'tdone it yet. It is going to happen. You've already manifested it. What'samazing about that individuals now? He reminds me like chris, you know, I'msorry. You know, I said all this stuff stuff, but you've changed my mind andnow that guy is making more money. He's ever made ever. Uh, and he's done anamazing job. He's doing really good. He's grown a lot and he's doing a greatjob. Wow, this is incredible. Man. I love this and I love that. I payattention to language. It's kind of a weird or anything. So when somebodyasks, well, what makes you so special, like talk about the biggest insult onplanet, what do you mean? Like I exist? I'm like, what are you saying? Whatmakes me so special? There's air in my lungs, You know, I'm special. Sorry.You don't see the worth of me being here. You know, I, you know, I'vewritten a couple books at that point, I've proven track for or more than any,like, you know, there's no reason why someone would have doubted me, right?But this guy is still down. I'm just looking, I'm like, man, look, I promiseyou it's going to be good at it. I promise you hopefully he stuck aroundand he's really happy. He did. I think this is amazing. I have a couple morequestions as we wind down. So the first one being you mentioned thisindividuals now making more money than he's ever made and talk about quite amiraculous turnaround from what was a...

...bowel clenching year of like what'sgoing to happen. Everything shuts down, lockdowns. The whole world deals withthe pandemic. Now none of us can watch a good pandemic movie because werealize that no, we don't turn into zombies. We actually just have to stayat home and watch netflix. We have to stay at home and talk about theinception of a pandemic, is sitting at home during a pandemic watching netflixmovies about pandemics. Uh, but the point being is people are breakingrecords, like shattering records were coming fresh out of a pandemic wherenobody knew what was gonna happen and you're saying we sold 6 90 essentiallywe are going to 700 then 800 then whatever, there's the flip side of the industryand I know you've heard it on clubhouse. I've, I've heard it on clubhouse.There's a lot of pontificating going on around the impending doom of the carbusiness the way we know it, there's those saying we're getting nice and fatright now, but wait because there's a storm comingand I have to admit, I do tend to say, hey, be prepared. I don't know if it'sthe Boy scout in me, but all of us. But, but what, what areyour thoughts like, what do you see from your vantage point? The next 35? Idon't know, 10 years. What, what, what is the industry gonna look like duringthat time frame? You know, I had this conversation, I went to N. C. F.Training just recently. Um, and I have my last class, um, for executivetraining, uh, next week or the following week. Um, and I basicallyjust told them, look, the next five years you're going to continue to see alot of consolidation. You see lithia buying up dealers and ships left andright. You see autonation, you see all of these stores that are buyingconsolidated, They're buying a lot of...

...stores. Um, and so you'll see thesegroups, you'll continue to see them get bigger because they were just buyingout all the smaller stores. Um, but I think of any good operator, you know,whether it's a down market or not market the best always do good and, andyou know, they say success is a lousy teacher and that's why I don't care howmany cars I sell or whatever, however successful we get, it's never goodenough to me because I always look at all of the inefficiencies where I can,that I could have done a little bit better and I never let anybody forgetwhere we could be as much as great as it is. You know, we still celebrate thewind, something around, but I still make sure that I keep everybodygrounded in knowing that there's still opportunity as great as we are. There's,there's always a way, and as long as we don't get romantic about winning everyday, we'll continue to, yeah, you've got the Chicago bulls, you've got thatChicago bulls, just one, our fifth championship. We don't know we're gonnawin the sixth one yet, but we are, but you celebrate for like five minutes andthen you're back, you're back to work. Exactly. Um, Now here's thecontroversial question of the day. That single point store, who's wondering about the future? What would you say the indicator forthem ought to be to whether they should sell to the Lithia or really make a goof this and see what can be done well for those ones here, either in aposition or you think big and you want to get big like plan monday, right?That little rural store that he went up...

...to the 1000. Um, if you're in that myinstead then just keep going. Right. But if you're not, this is probably themost money you've ever made as a dealer because margins have been the biggestthey've ever been, then you're going to get the biggest smallest school you'veever had. And then this is probably an opportunity for you to just kind ofhang up your had. Now if you want to grow and do more then there's thatopportunity, I mean there's there's dealers that I know that are in thosesmaller markets that are pulling doing a great job pulling from those biggermarkets and they're super successful. The challenge of those ones. You know,you might pull a lot of people in but you're not retaining those U. I. O. Foryour search department. Um And that's really where most dealers are, don'treally focus as much as they should have is in the service department andor growing the service department. There are a lot of maintainers in theindustry, people that just want to maintain what they're doing and don't,don't have the foresight to grow that service department even more. When Ilook at how many Jiffy lives in the world, there are in the United States,there are all of those other shops on the side that, you know, are justtaking the dealer's business because they're so you know comfortable intheir current environment that they don't grow their service department anduh that's my opportunity, man, I love it in order to, you know, I often saythis to, well not anymore, but I used to, as we were really in start up modewith my business. Um the conditioning of mindset is really about what you'vebeen talking about here. It's like opportunities don't announce themselves,they're not flying through the door like Kramer on Seinfeld saying, I'm anopportunity. You're either prepared or in a constant state of preparation andyou recognize it and do something or you don't. And if anybody's wonderingif Cirillo owned a single point store...

...for the one of you that's wondering mymom probably, you know, uh, I would be in, go acquire sleepy store mode rightnow. Right now, I wouldn't be waiting, I would be doing it right now. Likewhat chris just talked about margins are higher than they've ever been.Things are good. My belly is full. I want to go find that 80 year old, that60 year old 70 year old owner who maybe doesn't have a succession plan whosesleepy, who's like whatever, go give him a multiple and say muzzle, top man,you rung the bell now you're out, go enjoy the rest. But I'm gonna try likeI'm not waiting for lithia to come and sniff out my market or auto Canada orwhoever the big groups. Uh, I am talking to my bank today. I'm talkingwith you today. That's just my own philosophy because I think, I thinkthere is an opportunity. So I guess the last question to that is, Dodealerships still exist in 10 years? Absolutely, for sure. I think that, youknow, you'll see that what you know ford is doing and like a lot of dealersright now our manufacturers are doing the whole, um, it's order from hometype thing that they're really trying to, because in the past they've triedto really come in and be self direct consumer. I mean, there's a lot of lawsin place that protects the dealer franchise. Um, so it's gonna be, itwould be a long road ahead, but they have the money to do it. If themanufacturer wanted to go in and say I'm gonna go and sell direct toconsumer, but it would just be be too tough. I think that the dealer servesits purpose. They do a great job. The consolidation is going to happen. Ijust think that you'll see some...

...automation that will come into playthat is going to maybe reimagine the salesperson a little bit and and or anyredundancies in the industry and in the business that are just kind ofrepetition like redundancies Right taken away. Yeah man, this is amazing.Thank you so much for joining me today. How can those listening, get in touchwith you to learn more about you? Uh you can go to my website chris josephMartinez dot com um or you can catch me on facebook link them anywhere. I'mthey're amazing man. Thanks for joining me on the dealer Playbook podcast. Yeah, I'm Michel Cirillo. And you've beenlistening to the dealer Playbook podcast. If you haven't yet, pleaseclick the subscribe button wherever you're listening right now. Leave arating or review and share it with a colleague. Thanks for listening. Mm. Yeah. Mhm.

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